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Tino Martinez Award Finalists

TINO MARTINEZ AWARD FINALISTS ANNOUNCED The candidates for the 2011 Tino Martinez Award for DII Baseball Player for the Year have been narrowed down to eight deserving athletes. The list of finalists was originally intended to be limited to five players; however the impressive stats compiled by this octet of athletes over the past season made it impossible to leave any off the list.

The eight finalists are:

• Matt Johnson, OF, Arkansas Tech Wonderboys
• Ajay Meyer, SP, Ashland Eagles
• Dean Green, 1B, Barry Bucs
• Chase Larsson, OF, Cameron Aggies
• Ryan Thompson, SP, Franklin Pierce Ravens
• Carter Capps, SP, Mount Olive Trojans
• Nathan Minnich, DH, Shepherd Rams
• Dodson McPherson, OF, Wingate Bulldogs

Initial nominations for the award were made by baseball sports information contacts and media members. A national panel of media, coaches and sports information officers was polled to finalize the candidates. The group will once again vote on the finalists, and an Internet vote will also contribute to the crowning of the winner.

The winner will be announced after the conclusion of the DII Baseball Championship held in Cary , NC from May 28th to June 4th.

Last year, Bryan Fogle of Erskine won the first edition of the award after batting .430 and leading DII with 28 home runs, 103 RBI (the second most in NCAA history) and 203 total bases. Fogle was drafted by Tampa Bay following the season and is currently in the Rays’ minor league system. Runner-up Hayden Simpson of Southern Arkansas was a first round draft choice of the Chicago Cubs.

The award is presented to the most outstanding player in DII college baseball. The annual honor is named after the former University of Tampa Spartan , United States Olympian, first round draft pick and MLB All-Star, Tino Martinez.

The finalists:

Johnson was named the GSC West Division Player of the Year and earning unanimous First-Team All-GSC West Division accolades the past two seasons. On the season, Johnson, who was named to the GSC All-Tournament Team and is poised to become just the second All-American in baseball in the school’s Division II era, hit .454 and leads all of Division II in runs per game (1.55), runs scored (79) and hits (97) and is fifth nationally in total bases (156) and is 12th nationally in stolen bases (37). He closed out the season having recorded a hit in 34 consecutive games and is fifth nationally in batting average. Additionally, Johnson recorded 22 doubles, had four triples, nine home runs and 50 RBIs. He holds single-season school records for hits (99), runs scored (79), total bases (156) and stolen bases (37) and is the school’s all-time leader in triples (10), and finished second on the school’s all-time charts in batting average (.436), runs scored (149) and stolen bases (73), seventh in career hits (183), eighth in career doubles (33) and sixth in career total bases (265). On the season, he had a team-leading 32 multi-hit games and 13 multiple RBI contests.

Meyer put together one of the best pitching seasons in recent AU memory. He was 9-3 with a 1.47 ERA in the regular season and set the school single-season record for complete games with 11. Meyer is the GLIAC leader in strikeouts (94) and innings pitched (92.0) and is tied for the league lead with nine wins. He made 15 appearances and also had two saves this season to go along with three complete game shutouts. The Hamler, Ohio native went the distance in all but one of his starts. In nine of his appearances he allowed no earned runs. Opponents are batting just .187 off him this season and he has walked just 13 batters. On May 7, he threw the first one-hitter of his career against visiting Hillsdale. For his career, Meyer is 19-5 with 19 complete games.

A senior from Tulsa , Okla. , Green proved to be one of the most potent hitters in the SSC, ranking among the league’s best in a number of offensive categories. Green’s .402 batting average was second among SSC hitters, while he led the conference with a .810 slugging percentage, .523 on-base percentage, 71 RBI, and 18 home runs. Additionally, he ranked third with 19 doubles and 74hits. At one point in the season, Green carried a 21-game hitting streak. He was named SSC Player of the Week three consecutive weeks during that span.

Larsson was recently named the NCBWA South Central Region’s Player of the Year, while also picking up first team honors on the South Central All-Region Team. Larsson had one of the most dominant seasons in the history of college baseball, leading the nation in home runs (29), RBI (84), slugging percentage (1.000), total bases (190), and runs scored (74) in his first season in Division II. He also set a new NCAA DII record for the most consecutive games with a homer (9), tops among all NCAA divisions.

Thompson, a sophomore right-hander, who transferred from the University of Connecticut , had a dominant year for the Ravens on the mound as he went 10-1 in eleven starts. Thompson’s ten wins led the Northeast-10, and his 105 strikeouts are also tops in the league. Not only are his numbers good to lead the conference, Thompson is among the leaders nationally in a number of categories. His ERA is currently 0.92, which puts him second nationally, and his 11.84 strikeouts per nine innings is eleventh best in the country. As of this release, his strikeout total was also good for ninth among Division II student-athletes.

Capps, a converted catcher, was named 2011 Conference Carolinas Pitcher of the Year and Most Valuable Player of this year’s Conference Carolinas Tournament. Prior to the start of the season, Capps was selected as Baseball America ‘s Preseason Division II National Pitcher of the Year and Top Prospect among Division II Players. Capps is 12-0 this season, becoming the first pitcher in Trojan history to record at least 10 wins in consecutive seasons. He is unbeaten in his collegiate career with a 22-0 record. His 22 consecutive wins is an NCAA Division II record, breaking the previous record of 21. Capps, who has a 1.72 earned run average, tossed a no-hitter against Coker this season, only the third in school history and the first-ever nine-inning no-hitter.

Minnich was named the WVIAC Hitter of the Year and shared the WVIAC Player of the Year honors. He started all 37 games for the Rams, batting a league-best .433 with 52 hits in 120 at-bats. He also led the conference with 14 homers and 103 total bases while finishing third in runs (42) and RBIs (38). He led Shepherd in nine different offensive categories, including walks (28), on-base percentage (.553) and slugging (.858). His 14 homers were more than the rest of the team combined. Minnich ranks among NCAA Division II leaders in several categories — on-base percentage (3rd), homers per game (4th), slugging percentage (4th), homers (tied for 10th) and batting average (10th).

McPherson is the 2011 SAC Player of the Year. He led the conference in hits (91), runs (65), RBI (77), triples (five), homers (17), and slugging percentage (.748). He finished second in the league in batting average (.410), total bases (166) and on-base percentage (.475). McPherson is also among the national leaders in several categories, ranking second in hits, fourth in RBI and total bases, fifth in homers and runs scored and 11th in slugging percentage. He reached base safely in 53 of Wingate’s 54 games during the season and helped the Bulldogs to a second-place finish during the regular season, while leading Wingate to its first Food Lion SAC tournament title since 1998.